Woolston Eyes 14.03.17

Overcast, mild with a splash of rain and a dash of sunshine

Quite a while before our ‘official’ start time most of the Team were on Weir Lane and more than ready to face this ‘Cusp of Spring’ visit to that hidden gem of a Reserve that lies but three miles from the heart of Warrington. Thus at the stroke of ten all happily trundled down to the basin area noting House Sparrow, Herring Gull and Collared Dove along the way. Then views out over this loop of the Mersey gave Tufted Duck, Pochard and a pair of Great Crested Grebe all species ensuring that our Woolston list would be of the ‘usual’ pen draining total.

The ‘climb’ to the bank of number two bed led us to panoramic views of Greater Warrington but Church Spires and Cooling Towers were not the object of our observations for just at the moment that we were gaining good views of a pair of Shelduck a voice rang outSand Martin hawking for insects above number Three Bed’ leading all to peer high into the cloud-rich sky and find our first migrant of Spring! A Cetti’s Warbler and several Chiffchaffs also indicated that this new season was gaining ground but these two species managed to remain out of view but ‘we knew’ they were about (two more on the ears/eyes list). The river which offers plenty of shelter for a variety of wildfowl in the winter months was today, apart from a pair of Gadwall, a bird free expanse and as such it too was indicating the season for those which had wintered here were now off to their breeding grounds either on or quite far from the reserve.

We then plodded onward being drawn to the ‘Cacophony Party’ being held on number three bed by at least three hundred Black Headed Gulls which have happily returned to liven up the area for the next few months…well I LOVE the sound of them anyway! (Well except for the fact that it confirms that yet another year has zipped by!). Footbridge negotiated and once more we had stepped through the back of the Wardrobe and into Narnia ready to indulge ourselves in the almost make believe world of Reedbeds/Lagoons/Woodland Fringes and open Meadows that conspire to make this area a magnet-like attraction for a whole series of birds and other wildlife but it was the birds we could surely hear but as yet not quite see hence we quickened our steps to gain vantage points; the first being the South Bank Scaffold platform which allowed views right across the North Bank.

Passing into the open area that sits within the centre of the bed, we noted stands of Snowdrops and soon to flower Ransomes (Wild Garlic) on our way to the majestic Morgan Hide, which inspite of its generous proportions, just about managed to fit our number on this well attended trip. The view was taken at our ease, but in reality this was not the time to sit back and settle down for our elevenses as there was some serious searching to be done first for word was out that this very Reserve’s emblematic bird had returned for the summer. Soon enough a Black Necked Grebe was spotted—to the initial frustration of quite a number of the Team for said bird would insist on diving under the water in its need to feed up after its migration flight back ‘home’, but after plenty of helpful instructions as to which clump of Reed and its surrounding water to concentrate upon, all could relax and take in this vision of feathered finery.

Snacking, chatting and relaxed birdwatching then mingled gaining us quite a few more birds for the day including Buzzard, Lapwing and Oystercatcher over and about the bed whilst Greenfinch and Willow Tit graced the feeders.

A gentle circuit of the bed, with a pause at the Rotary hide to gain great views of this time a pair of Black Necked Grebe and a pair of Little Grebe’ then led us back to the Footbridge from which we bid farewell to our island of nature…until next time. A male Sparrowhawk managed to stall our progress back to the cars as it moved effortlessly about the now clear and bright sky, under which we finally pushed on and bade our goodbyes back on Weir Lane. (DS)

Bird List (DS)

  1. Mute Swan
  2. Greylag Goose
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Shelduck
  5. Mallard
  6. Gadwall
  7. Shoveler
  8. Teal
  9. Pochard
  10. Tufted Duck
  11. Black-necked Grebe
  12. Little
  13. Grebe
  14. Great Crested Grebe
  15. Cormorant
  16. Buzzard
  17. Sparrowhawk
  18. Moorhen
  19. Coot
  20. Oystercatcher
  21. Lapwing
  22. Black-headed Gull
  23. Herring Gull
  24. Lesser Black-baked Gull
  25. Woodpigeon
  26. Collared Dove
  27. Sanmd Martin
  28. Pied Wagtail
  29. Wren
  30. Dunnock
  31. Robiun
  32. Blackbird
  33. Goldcrest
  34. Great Tit
  35. Blue Tit
  36. Long-tailed Tit
  37. Magpie
  38. Carrion Crow
  39. Starling
  40. House Sparrow
  41. Chaffinch
  42. Goldfinch
  43. Greenfinch

Clockwise from the top left: Spring flowers; scarlet elf cup; ringed black-headed gull (Thames Valley); the Team; and Yes, it’s definitely Spring!

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